China and India have made positive progress in their latest talks on a long-running border dispute that turned deadly in last month, a Chinese official said.
Top commanders from the two sides held their fourth round of talks on Tuesday, a month after the deadly clash between their soldiers in the Galwan Valley, where India is building a strategic road connecting the region to an airstrip close to China, said a Chinese spokesperson on Wednesday.
India says 20 of its soldiers were killed in the June 15 clash and that there were casualties among the Chinese as well.
However, China hasn’t confirmed any casualties on its side.
“The two sides have made positive progress on pushing forward the disengagement of the front-line troops on the western section of the border and easing the border tension,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing on Wednesday.
Hua called for concrete actions by India to implement the consensus the two countries have reached and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility along the border.
There was no immediate comment by India's defense ministry or the army.
Last week, India's external affairs minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said Indian and Chinese troops were disengaging from the standoff along the countries’ undemarcated border.
It’s very much a work in progress, Jaishankar said, adding that both sides agreed on the need to disengage because troops are deployed very close to each other.
The disputed border, known as the Line of Actual Control, covers about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) of frontier and stretches from Ladakh in the north to the Indian state of Sikkim in the northeast.
India and China fought a border war in 1962 that also spilled into Ladakh. The two countries have been trying to settle their border dispute since the early 1990s but without success.
Fresh lockdowns are being reinforced in several parts of India as the confirmed coronavirus cases is approaching one million.
India on Wednesday registered nearly 30,000 new cases and 582 more deaths, raising its total to more than 936,000 cases and over 24,000 fatalities.
The actual numbers, like elsewhere globally, are likely to be far higher due to limited testing and poor surveillance, experts say, reports AP.
A two-week lockdown that started on Thursday has been imposed in Bihar, an eastern state with a population of 128 million and a fragile health system.
Since Saturday, Bihar has recorded over 1,000 cases a day despite limited testing.
Nearly 2.5 million poor migrant workers who had been stranded during India’s initial lockdown of the entire country have returned to the state after losing their jobs in large cities.
In Bangalore, a key technology hub in southern India where offices for major tech companies like Amazon and Apple are located, the government ordered a weeklong lockdown from Tuesday evening.
The initial boost that India’s economy received in June after the nationwide lockdown was relaxed is being halted by these localised lockdowns in high-risk areas, experts say. Economic indicators like labour participation rates and electricity consumption are down this month compared to June, according to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy, an independent think-tank.
India’s minister for small and medium businesses, Nitin Gadkari, said last week that experts were predicting a loss of $133.3 billion in the next year.
Authorities are now increasingly trying to focus their lockdowns to shield the economy from further losses, and nearly a dozen states are turning to localised clampdowns in areas where many cases have been detected. Referred to as “containment zones” by public health officials, these can be as small as a few houses on a street in New Delhi, the capital.
Jayaprakash Muliyil, an epidemiologist at Christian Medical College in southern India, warned that the country's actual death toll from the coronavirus could be much higher due to the absence of a robust mechanism to report deaths in rural areas.
“We don’t have the infrastructure,” he said.
Dr Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, said that with new cases accelerating, India’s strategy must focus on keeping case numbers as low as possible and saving as many lives as it can.
“The standard stuff is the standard stuff: You have got to continue testing and isolation ... make sure there are few to no indoor gatherings,” he said.
Jha warned that India has to ensure it continues acquiring supplies and has enough beds for people who will need to be hospitalized in the coming days. “You can’t overprepare,” he said.
At least 15 people were killed in a flash flood in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province, an official said Tuesday.
The flood also left an unknown number of people missing, reports AP.
“Fifteen are reported dead and we are still looking for more casualties since access to many locations is still blocked by the mud,” North Luwu district official Indah Putri Indriani said.
She said the flooding, that began on Monday evening and was triggered by heavy rains, caused three rivers to overflow.
Mud and other materials carried by the floodwaters covered roads and thousands of houses, she said.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Raditya Jati said the flood affected more than 4,000 residents of six sub districts in North Luwu.
“The provincial road is covered in mud and that blocks access to the main command post and the affected areas,” Jati said.
Heavy rains cause frequent landslides and flash floods in Indonesia, where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near flood plains.
With the death of six more people in floods and mudslides in northeastern India's Assam state, the death toll has been climbed to 77 till Tuesday.
According to officials, two weeks of heavy rains caused one of Asia's largest rivers to overflow.
The Brahmaputra River continued to wreak havoc, displacing more than 2 million people, the officials said.
Vast tracts were still underwater with 26 of the state’s 33 districts badly affected.
M.S. Mannivanan, head of the State Disaster Management Authority, said rescue and relief operations were underway.
“We have 40 teams of the State Disaster Response Force in the worst-hit areas and the army also is on standby,” Mannivanan said.
The Brahmaputra River, which flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh, burst its banks in Assam late last month, inundating large swathes of the state and triggering mudslides.
“The situation is grim, although the Brahmaputra's waters have receded slightly today with the intensity of rains coming down a bit,” Manninanan said.
Thousands of people were taking shelter Tuesday on a raised river embankment after being displaced from their submerged homes in central Assam’s Morigaon district.
“Our villages and all nearby villages have been under chest-deep water for about a week now,” said Nilima Khatun, who was clutching her 2-year-old child. “We are passing days in misery with no relief coming our way from the government.”
The floods also inundated most of Kaziranga National Park, home to rare one-horned rhinos, authorities said.
In the Pabitora wildlife sanctuary, 35 kilometers (21 miles) east of the state capital, Gauhati, an entire one-horned rhino population of over a hundred were taking shelter in artificially built highlands.
“The entire park is submerged with the rhinos moving to the highlands for shelter," park ranger Mukul Tamuly said by phone.
Annual monsoon rains hit the region in June-September. The rains are crucial for rain-fed crops planted during the season but often cause extensive damage.
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Currently, there is no adequate evidence of the transmission of COVID-19 from pregnant women infected with the virus to their fetuses, a Chinese medical expert has said.
The severity of the illness of pregnant COVID-19 patients is similar to that of other patients and the disease is not more likely to develop into serious cases for pregnant women, said Zhao Yangyu, head of the obstetrics department of the Peking University Third Hospital.
"According to researchers from home and abroad, the conditions of expectant mothers who have recovered from the disease are generally good, and there is no proof of the necessity to terminate the pregnancy," Zhao said.
With the current normal treatment and methods on pregnant patients, the fetuses are safe, she added.